Monday, February 23, 2009

Victims of brutality: women in Bangladesh

Photo: Julain Francis

WILLIAM GOMES

UNITED NATIONS has titled “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls” the theme for International women’s day 2009. International women’s day was started as a political event and blended in the culture in many countries of the world. Only 24 women have been elected heads of state or government in this century. It’s a matter of virtual achievement that Bangladesh has honored with two women leader Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Begum Khaleda Zia.

After 35 years of independence of Bangladesh and Begum Khaleda Zia has ruled the country for about 10 years (longest period). She has been elected to five separate parliamentary constituencies in the general elections of 1991, 1996, and 2001, a feat unachieved by any other politician in Bangladeshi history.

Sheikh Hasina's party defeated Begum Khaleda Zia's BNP in the 2008 Parliamentary Elections. Her party achieved a landslide victory reminiscent to the 1971 elections of Pakistan. Under her leadership, the party has achieved a supermajority in parliament, controlling 230 seats out of 299. Sheikh Hasina Wazed is the present prime minister of Bangladesh. Both of them have served as the head of the state for different period. If you look at the other side of coin you will easily realize the situation of the women’s in Bangladesh.

Different false extortion and murder case was filed by politically motivated the Bangladesh police during the military backed interim government against Sheikh Hasina Wazed. The military backed interim government subsequently prevents Hasina and issued ban to return to her own motherland.

The military backed interim government arrested Sheikh Hasina wazed with ulterior motive to draw portrait of Pakistan to force her to into political exile. The progressive concern all over the world protested on her arrest.

On June 11, 2008 Hasina was released on parole for medical reasons and the next day she flew to the United States to be treated for hearing impairment, eye problems and high blood pressure. Prof. Syed Modasser Ali, her personal physician, threatened to sue the caretaker government over negligence regarding Hasina's treatment during her detention.

On September 2, 2007, a case was filed against Zia by the interim government for corruption regarding the awarding of contracts to Global Agro Trade Company in 2003, and on September 3, 2007 she was arrested. On government’s executive order Zia was released later.

Although the Islam always pritirize women and give honor to women that is cleraifed in Sura Al-Baqarah, verse.282 in the Holy Quran the Islamic facist has questioned the women leadership and manily targeted Sheikh Hasina Wazed.

On August 21, 2004, a murderous attack took place on Sheikh Hasina while she was addressing a public rally in Dhaka. In this incident 23 people were killed. One of the victims was Ivy Rahman, a close associate of Sheikh Hasina. Sheikh Hasina herself narrowly escaped with some injuries. Until now she is carryuing the injuries in her body and she become nearly deaf.

In past election campaign Hsian and Khaleda Zia campaign under foolproof security arrangements and moved with the high security of Special Security Force (SSF) with fear of beign of targeted by the Islamic fascist. The top women leaders are paying the price of Islamization of Bangladesh indeed. The transition to democracy is always jeopardized by Islamic fascists with a demand of Islamic theocracy.

On year 2008, country wide 518 cases of Violence against women claimed according to a survey report released by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a human rights organisation, reported by “The daily star “on 2009-01-01.

Of the victims, 172 women were killed over dowry and 246 in domestic violence while 83 killed after rape. The list also includes 17 female domestic helps. Besides, 367 more women were raped and eight of them committed suicide during the one-year period. Two domestic helps also committed suicide. Also, 20 women fell victim to fatwa (religious edict).

Violence against women is becoming more and more of a common and widespread issue across the country. The legal process to combat gender-based violence is complicated. Some of the major ones are: physical violence, sexual harassment, trafficking/kidnapping, acid attack, dowry, wife battering, fatwa, eve teasing, murder, rape, gang rape and many more. State intervention towards preventing violence against women is inadequate till date. The minority women and children are always victimized by the Islamic fascist where the government has failed to secure the rights of minority women and children. Although government has signed different International convention and introduce special law to protect the women and children the government always failed to secure the women and children. As a result we saw the women and children become victim of brutality in Bangladesh. When two begums were victimized, uncounted ill fated are crying for justice. #

William Nicholas Gomes [cda.exe@gmail] is an independent human rights activist, a Catholic ecumenical activist, and a political analyst. He is also the Executive Director of the Christian Development Alternative (CDA), a national organization against torture and human rights violations. www.persecutionbd.org